In 1903, the forested area now known as the Rothrock had been virtually stripped bare of trees to provide wood to make charcoal for the iron furnaces located at Greenwood Furnace in Huntingdon County. When two of the Greenwood Furnace hearths closed that year, forestry commissioner Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock was instrumental in helping the Commonwealth purchase approximately 35,000 acres of the company’s land. Other purchases followed until most of the Seven Mountains area became state forest reserves.
In 1933, newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the US Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work program for able-bodied and unemployed males. Approximately 93 resident work camps, each consisting of 174-200 young men, were built on Pennsylvania's state forests. Six of these camps were located in the present day Rothrock State Forest. Today’s Penn Roosevelt State Park was one of these sites employing men of color. State forestry personnel planned and supervised work projects for the CCC which included construction of roads, fire trails, workshops, park and picnic area development, tree planting and fire suppression. All CCC camps in the Rothrock closed by early 1942.